The power and beauty of religious poetry - Star-Life, Identikit, Ministers

The power and beauty of religious poetry - Star-Life, Identikit, Ministers

Bruce Dawe

Poetry, like other art forms, has the power to inspire us spiritually through its beauty and insights. The following religious poems possess these qualities.

The first three are by one of Australia's foremost poets, Bruce Dawe, who has been a regular contributor to this journal and has had several of his collections published. The other two (here) were written by Melbourne-based sisters, Marion and Delia Craig, whose religious poems have appeared regularly in 'AD2000' since its beginning.


On every starlit night we see
hung in the heavens the mystery
of worlds and their creation,
and (tilted with its burden bright
as though twice heavy with its light)
one special constellation
for when we see the Southern Cross
the thoughts we have betoken loss
and love that must abide,
and we must variously bear
the upright and the crossbeam there
- and the spear-thrust in the side.

* * *


While many see you clear in space
(the eyes, the mouth, the human face,
the hair, the hands, the body whole,
the arms that would embrace the soul)
and, as well, locate you where
you stand and speak in summer air
by lake-side or in upper room,
clothed in the raiment of your doom,
or shining like the morning sun
when some small child you look upon,
(and this is reasonable, because
each must fashion from what was
a present and a future tense,
so spellbinding, so immense)
- some at times may find you stand
turned half away, and the greeting planned
is frozen on our lips.

Then we
behold you turn . . . And suddenly
we find, as all true lovers do:
that our heart's description matches you.

* * *


for Liz

Nothing would be the same, they all averred,
although they didn't comprehend every word,
still, all that they heard spoken then by Him
reverberated daily in the dim
groves of their ignorance and played a part
implanting gospel seedlings in each heart

They could not, henceforth, walk familiar fields
without noticing how every spring rain yields
those little flowers their Master had commended
to prove His Father's providence never ended;
remembering the psalmist's sad avowal
that he was like the pelican and the owl,
they could not see the one in lordly flight
nor hear the other calling in the night
without recalling their Lord's sacrifice
while wisdom, that pearl beyond all price,
secreted in the shell of memory
urged them to be what they were meant to be.

Nothing again, they knew, would be the same
- how often He had caused them to exclaim:
"This is too much, too much!" - only to find
lame they could walk and see where they were blind

Not only burning bush and Damascus Road
confront us with the telegrams of God
but all that sacralizes earth and sea
calls us to reckon Heaven's ministry.

Bruce Dawe

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